Conversation Starters for Inbound Leads

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!

At Connect 5000, we’re huge advocates and fans of proactive outbound prospecting, cold/warm calling, hunting for new logos, new business development, etc. (Or whatever term you prefer.)

We believe it’s better to be proactive and hunt for new business, rather than being reactive and waiting for the phone to ring.

But, we’re even bigger fans of something else: inbound leads!

Inbound leads are great in that a prospect had a pain or problem, did some online research or hunting, came across your website, filled out the form and requested a conversation.

We refer to them fondly as “Sales Gravy”.

I received one recently and followed up with the prospect in a timely manner.

(Multiple research shows you should connect with prospects within 30-60 minutes, or statistically, they grow cold and the chances to convert them into a client drops greatly.)

How should you start a conversation with an inbound lead?

Here are my two suggestions:

1. Ask them how they heard about your company.

Mr./Ms. Prospect, if I may ask, how did you hear about us?

(It’s a simple, non-threatening question to get the conversation going, plus it helps you figure out how your prospects are finding you for lead source purposes.)

2. Ask them: what prompted them to reach out to you.

Mr./Ms. Prospect, what prompted you to reach out to us? What’s your driving your interest currently?

(Then shut up and don’t say anything and let the prospect respond. Don’t spray and pray! Don’t have diarrhea of the mouth! Don’t spill the beans and talk about how wonderful you are.)

Listen to your prospect, ask open-ended questions, assess their situation, and then diagnose their problems.

Don’t drink too many margaritas tonight! Hope these two questions help close more business!

Short Story On Why Never To Burn Bridges

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you had a great holiday.

I keep in touch with people I work with, both clients Connect 5000 has partnered with as well as people I’ve hired to work for Connect 5000.

A few years ago, I was the acting director of sales for a software company in California. We parted ways in 2014 and I kept in touch with a few of their staff after working together for about 9 months.

One gal, who was a solid inside sales rep, left the company and we kept in touch from time to time.

This past February, the timing was perfect and I hired her to work for me at Connect 5000. She accepted the offer, signed the offer letter and she was to start the following Monday. Long story short, she called me a few hours later and said that another company she had interviewed with, finally called her back and that she wouldn’t be working for me after all because it was a better fit for her.

I was mildly disappointed, to say the least, and we talked by phone and she explained her reasoning. I understood and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I wasn’t irritated after our conversation ended.

A few hours later after I had time to think about things, I texted and emailed her and wished her the best of success. I wasn’t sure if I’d hear from her anytime soon.

A few months later, she reached out to me. She was with another start up and they needed some sales consulting and advice. She introduced me to her CEO. After a few conversations between the 3 of us, the company hired me to consult with them and I’m working with my old associate, but in a different way I didn’t expect.

I know I’m stating the obvious but if you make an offer to someone you’ve interviewed and they turn it down for whatever reason, it’s okay to be hurt, disappointed or even angry. Just don’t stay there. Wish them well and move on. You never know where they are going to land and if you end things on a positive note, it could provide additional revenue opportunities for you and your company.

Creative Lead Generation Idea (On the High End Price Range)

Happy March everyone!

March Madness has begun! I’m hoping my KU Jayhawks go far in the tournament. Final 4 or bust!

I recently read John Ruhlin’s book “Giftology”.

This short book was on the art and science of using gifts to cut through the noise and clutter of life to open conversations, generate referrals and boost sales revenue.

One idea that I liked and plan to experiment in is this:

Send a prospect an embroidered knife or knife set with their name on it in gift wrapping and ask them this simple question: “Can we carve out some time to talk?”

For you skeptics and cynics out there, when was the last time you received a knife from a prospect?

Well then, I rest my case.

You can get a classy knife from Cutco, embroidered and gift wrapped for around $100 or so.

Is this idea for everyone? Of course not.

BUT, if you have a high average sale price, send out a few to some hard to reach prospects, and follow up later on by phone or email.

Just one new client will probably pay for this investment.

Is this guaranteed to work? Is anything? Of course not.

Try this different way to get into the door of hard to reach executives and let me know how your results are.

I’m Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000.

Sneaky Sales Email Tip of the Day

(Disclaimer: I was not compensated in anyway to promote this service. I pay my monthly subscription with my own funds.)

Ever wonder if the email you sent to a client, prospect, colleague, or friend actually made it to their inbox and that they actually opened and read it?

Well, say no more! Problem solved!

In August 2016, I signed up for Bananatag and am a big fan of their service. Their website is www.bananatag.com and I pay $12.50 per month.

In a nutshell, when you send someone an email, whether personal or business, it sends you an email notification when the recipient opens your email or clicks a link if there’s one inside the email.

So what? Who cares? Sound a little too big brotherish for you? Here’s why it’s helpful.

When prospecting or making sales calls: send an email first. If the email address is valid, it notifies you that the email address is legitimate and you don’t have to worry about if it hit their spam filter or if the email address is wrong, assuming they opened the email, no matter how briefly it was.

You can then call them later on and follow up by telephone and have a multi-touch campaign going.

There are plenty of similar services out there. I don’t know of any service that guarantees your email won’t hit their spam folder.

If they clicked on your website embedded in your email, you know.

If they clicked on your LinkedIn profile in your email, you know.

No service is 100% accurate. If you’re looking for perfection, stop it! It also won’t tell you how long they read your email, etc. They may open it, you get notified, but they delete it and never read it.

I’ve sent emails to people and they respond back and I didn’t get a notification. That’s okay. Move on!

If you send a proposal to a prospect or an email to an existing client, the majority of the time, you’ll get notified.

It’s nice so that you don’t have to wonder if they received an email or not, or if you had the correct email address. Peace of mind for $12.50 a month.

Turnover: Another reason to keep your sales pipeline full!

Hey everyone!

In December 2016, I had a conversation with a VP of Marketing of a $3.7B software company in the Kansas City metro as well as a referral lead for a Sales Director in California by an existing client of mine.

We had solid conversations, both prospects had pain and need and I could see a potential fit.

The next action item step was to continue our conversations in January 2017.

Both of my follow-up calls were this past week and neither person showed. Not unusual, things and life come up.

I left a message with both prospects and sent a follow-up email.

Immediately, I received an auto responder back from the VP of Marketing that she was no longer there.

Later in the evening, I received an email from the company of the Sales Director informing me that my contact was no longer with the company, etc.

I know I’m stating the obvious but people quit, retire, get terminated or change positions.

This is another reason we as sales professionals and small business owners should keep our pipeline full.

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, made this famous quote: “Change is the only constant in life.”

How true and a timely reminder this week for me following up with sales prospects!

 

 

 

Another Creative Lead Generation Idea To Get Into Targeted Companies

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

I came across this site earlier this year on creative ways to prospect and get inside targeted companies.

Here’s the link: http://www.littlebookthatsells.com/

I’ve ordered a few batches from this company and the feedback has been exceptional. Only one prospect had constructive feedback and he thought it was “gimmicky”. (You can’t win them all!)

In a nutshell: your targeted prospects get bombarded with phone calls, emails, texts and sales letters via snail mail.

How do you stand out differently in all this noise?

When’s the last time you received a box in the mail that contained a children’s illustration book and music player narrating your company and story?

This company will do it at a very cost effective rate. I sent out 40 boxes and set up 4 meetings so far during this holiday season. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but when was the last time you generated a 10% response rate?

Here are 3 reasons why you should trying doing something different and creative:

  1. It will catch the attention of very busy executive decision makers. (Again, when was the last time you received a box in the mail at work?)
  2. The gatekeeper may be less likely to open the box because it may be a personal, not work related item.
  3. It’s a better and sticky way to get your message across. Prospects can delete emails and voicemails quickly. They are less likely to throw away a book and music player.

Here’s what the prospect gets in each box:

  1. A custom children’s book narrating your company story and value proposition.
  2. A music player and headphones so prospects can hear your story audibly.
  3. A handwritten note and call to action
  4. Samples or any giveaway you deem appropriate. (Like a $5 Starbucks card.)

If you are a B2B company and have a medium to high average sale, I recommend you try something different and creative like “The Little Book That Sells” to get inside targeted companies.

I’m Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000.

A Creative Way to Get a Sales Meeting

Happy December everyone!

There’s a Sales VP in town who I wanted to secure a meeting with. As with other prospects, he was very elusive and busy. I looked at his LinkedIn profile and noticed he was on the board of a non-profit organization here in town.

I checked out the non-profit and decided to make a donation for $100 in honor of the Sales VP.

After I received my email receipt from the non-profit, I forwarded it to him and asked if he was open to a conversation. He said yes and I got the ball rolling.

Two things this showed:

  1. The executive knew I did some research on him and I took the initiative to be creative and stand out from other companies trying to grab his attention.
  2. The money went towards a great cause.

Does it need to be $100? Absolutely not. Maybe the amount needs to be only $25.

Because Sales VP’s like him are constantly bombarded, here’s another creative example on how to get in the door of a targeted prospect.

Happy Holidays everyone!

My Post-Election Sales Tip of the Day

I, like countless other Americans am glad that the 2016 presidential election is over!

(This is not a political post or an endorsement of the President-Elect. I’m a registered independent voter and voted for Gary Johnson since I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.)

There are countless reasons and factors that determined the winner of the 2016 Presidential Election. Congrats winner: 50% of the country didn’t vote for you.

One of the main reasons I believe that Donald Trump won the presidency is this: He uncovered pain of the voters, addressed it and promised he’d fix it. There were many voters who felt they were forgotten and left behind by Washington, DC in this current economy. Fair or unfair, Trump continually magnified his voter’s “pain” and said he’d do something about it.

It remains to be seen if he will keep his promises and fix America’s “pain” but I digress.

How about you? When you’re reaching out to potential clients, do you simply throw up a bunch of features and benefits and hope something sticks?

Or do you uncover your sales prospects “pain”, probe deeper and magnify it and show how your solution will solve their pain?

If I have a splitting headache, I’ll do about anything to relieve that pain.

It’s the same with your sales prospects. Uncover their pain, address their pain and tell them specifically how you’re going to fix it, and they’ll “vote” with their budget.

The power of a handwritten note

This isn’t the first article on handwritten notes and it certainly won’t be the last.

My wife and I have a sitter we use for date nights, doctor visits, etc. I’ve known this gal for over 10 years from church.

We recently referred her to a colleague of mine who have a little boy so they can have someone for date nights and other events.

On Saturday we received in the snail mail a small thank you card and a gift card to Chili’s from her thanking us for referring her to my colleague.

Wow! That was unexpected. And I’m not referring to the monetary value of the gift card.

We in sales all know after gaining a new client or referral that we should send a handwritten thank you. But we don’t. I think we get so busy we simply forget to.

3 quick observations:

1. How often do you get a handwritten note by snail mail these days? Seriously? It’s rare. Just by doing this small task more often, you’ll stand out.

2. It was unexpected and it brightened my day. Lately my allergies have been flaring up and I feel physically drained. This little act made my afternoon.

3. How likely am I going to refer our sitter to other couples and friends who need occasional babysitting help? Very much so! She took the time to send us a small note. She didn’t have to and I knew she was appreciate that we passed her name along. She stood even more by thanking us in writing.

So what can the power of a handwritten note do in your sales world?